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Tuna Ceviche with Grapefruit & Tamarind

Grapefruit, tamarind, and sesame are as delicious as ever together.

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I first tasted this dish at the Maroma Resort & Spa in Mexico many years ago. I was so blown away by the depth of flavor, the fresh and bright taste, and the complexity and creativity. Every element of the composition was visually impressive, too, from the barely-seared ahi to the beguiling grapefruit suprêmes. I asked the chef if he would share just the ingredients in the marinade and he kindly obliged. The combination, frankly, is brilliant. The quantities and ratios I knew I could figure out for myself, and I sure did. Thank goodness! The next time I visited the hotel a few years later, both that chef and this ceviche were no longer there. No problemos! I’ve got us all covered!

Equipment: cutting board; chef's knife; mixing bowl; rubber spatula; measuring spoons; nonstick pan; fish spatula and/or tongs; pastry brush; offset spatula; whisk

Ceviche Ingredients:

1½ pounds sushi-grade tuna (ahi)

vegetable oil

kosher salt

2 grapefruits

juice of 1 lime

1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil

1 tablespoon light brown sugar*

2 teaspoons tamarind paste

¼ red bell pepper, julienne

¼ yellow bell pepper, julienne

Garnish Ingredients:

1 avocado, quartered and sliced

cilantro sprigs

1 jalapeño, thinly sliced crosswise (optional)

tostone or plantain chips (optional)

*piloncillo or jaggery - Mexican and Asian brown sugars respectively - would be even better!

1. First prepare the tuna. Cut the tuna into square or rectangular blocks of equal size. Brush each piece of tuna lightly with vegetable oil and sprinkle with salt on all sides.

2. Heat a nonstick sauté pan over medium-high heat. Once hot, place the tuna pieces in the pan to sear for a matter of 10-20 seconds on all four sides. Carefully cut the tuna crosswise into ¼-inch slices. Set aside.

"The tuna should remain completely raw with the exception of the even, thin, cooked outline. This quick sear is entirely aesthetic, a sophisticated touch to punctuate the sumptuous, ruby-red tuna flesh."

3. Next, prepare the grapefruits. Cut the grapefruits into suprêmes (sections) by cutting away the rind and pith to expose only the flesh and membrane. Then cut away the fibrous sections from the membrane and set aside. Squeeze the juice from the membranes into a large mixing bowl. Set aside.

4. Now prepare the peppers. Trim the pepper pieces of their ribs. Lay flat the pepper pieces skin side-down and cut away and discard half the flesh to make the pepper pieces less thick. Then slice the thinned pepper pieces into julienne (thin strips). Set aside.

5. In the mixing bowl containing the grapefruit juice, add the juice of one lime, the sesame oil, brown sugar, and tamarind. Mix well to combine. Add the tuna slices and peppers and carefully coat in the marinade. Cover and refrigerate for 20 minutes.

6. To serve the ceviche, place the tuna slices and peppers in a shallow dish. Top with the grapefruit suprêmes, sliced avocado, and cilantro leaves. Spoon some of the grapefruit-tamarind sauce over the fish. Garnish with jalapeño slices, if desired, and serve with tostone or plantain chips.

Makes 4 servings.

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